Saturday, May 31, 2014
Judging Edward Snowden
Peter Schwartz argues that "what Edward Snowden has done is worse" than the mass surveillance of Americans illegitimately undertaken by the NSA:
Snowden stole over a million classified documents, the majority of which pertained to NSA spying, not on U.S. citizens but on legitimate targets abroad, from the Taliban to the Iranians. By disclosing the methods used by the NSA, Snowden made it easier for those targets to evade future surveillance.Schwartz proceeds to argue at length that Snowden did this, animated by standard left-wing Anti-Americanism.
Amy Peikoff disagrees, starting her rebuttal as follows:
First, [Schwartz] notes that Snowden stole over one million classified documents, many of which concern legitimate NSA surveillance programs. But I doubt that Snowden, working covertly, had the luxury of sifting through the million-plus potentially relevant documents. He may have had a window of only a very few minutes to download what he needed. Moreover, Snowden has given permission for only a fraction of the total documents to be released and Glenn Greenwald has said that he and the other journalists have heeded Snowden's wishes (more on Greenwald in a minute). Finally, it may be true that revealing information about the NSA's methods -- some of which it uses legitimately -- could make a terrorist's job easier. But if revealing those methods is necessary to alert the American people to the injustice committed by the NSA, then so be it.Both posts make interesting reading. Not having followed this story closely, I will refrain from offering an opinion on Snowden's motives.
"[I]f you picked your friend wisely, the both of you will be better for it." -- Michael Hurd, in "Business vs. Friendship" at The Delaware Coast Press
"... I've come to the conclusion that the best way to raise financially responsible children is to teach them cause and effect." -- Michael Hurd, in "Teaching Kids the Value of Money" at The Delaware Wave
"Thus we reach the opposite of Piketty's conclusion: a high rate of profit is caused by government crimes against the producers." -- Harry Binswanger, in "Statistics Aren't Enough to Discredit Piketty's Failed, Blood-Soaked Ideas" at RealClear Markets
"Before the invention of Solvadi, no amount of money could have made it available." -- Amesh Adalja, in "The Price is Right: New Hepatitis C Drug is Really a Priceless Breakthrough" at Forbes
"Recently, the patent licensing business model has taken center stage in the public policy debates in a way not seen since the [nineteenth] century (when the popular rhetorical epithet was 'patent shark')." -- Adam Mossoff, in "Thomas Edison Was a 'Patent Troll'" at Slate
"As a physician, I'm especially disturbed by the system of 'performance pay' which rewarded doctors who limited the number of patient follow-up visits." -- Paul Hsieh, in "Three Factors that Corrupted VA Health Care" at Forbes
"But as Avik Roy has pointed out in this excellent round-up, what we do know is disturbing. The pattern of falsified records apparently spans multiple centers in multiple states." -- Paul Hsieh, in "VA Denies Coverage for US Air Force Veteran With Malignant Brain Tumor" at Forbes
My Two Cents
Adam Mossoff does Americans a great service by demonstrating that so-called "patent trolls" are, in fact, merely practicing a venerable (and highly effective) form of division-of-labor through the practice of licensing. Based on some of the things I have seen in the tech press, many inventors and entrepreneurs would do well to read it.
I am tempted to cite the below, from an article about speeding up America's Passtime, as a textbook example of why I don't watch much baseball...
On May 21, a "confrontation" between Cleveland pitcher Josh Outman and Detroit catcher Bryan Holaday took only five pitches but lasted almost three minutes. Here are my notes from that at-bat: "Holaday swings and misses. Holaday steps out and adjusts the Velcro on his batting gloves. Holaday swings and misses. Holaday steps out and adjusts the Velcro on his batting gloves. Ball low. Holaday steps out and adjusts the Velcro on his batting gloves. Outman steps off the rubber. Foul. Holaday steps out and adjusts the Velcro on his batting gloves. Groundout."... but my alma mater is a baseball factory, and I gained an appreciation for the game from some great commentators one year when we won the College World Series. I do laugh about such nonsense, but I do hope this gets reigned in.
Today: (1) Added two omitted Hsieh op-eds to the "Weekend Reading" section. (2) Corrected typos.